The Impact Of Privacy On The Workplace Field Of Human Resource Management

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Employee privacy issues have surged to the forefront of the business press in recent years, spurred on by changing workplace dynamics and a litigation-conscious business environment. Observers say that advances in telecommunications—such as e-mail and the Internet—coupled with heightened concerns about vulnerability to litigation, have exacerbated management concerns about monitoring employee behavior. Indeed, employee privacy is already fairly restricted in many respects in many of the large corporations. Privacy in the workplace is a controversial issue in the field of Human Resource management as employers have more technologies available to monitor telephones, computer terminals, and voice mail. This privacy issue has been fueled by the increased use of a variety of electronic monitoring systems. Electronic monitoring is defined as "the computerized collection, storage, analysis, and reporting of information about employees ' productive activities" (Office of Technology Assessment, 1987, p. 27). "Currently, as many as 26 million workers in the United States are monitored in their jobs, and this number will increase as computers are used more and more within companies and as the cost of these monitoring systems goes down" (DeTienne, 1993, p. 33). Of those monitored, 10 million have their work evaluated and pay based on the data collected (DeTienne, 1993). "By the end of the decade, as many as 30 million people may be constantly monitored in their jobs" (DeTienne, 1993, p.
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